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Understanding the Difference Between Catheter Types

by Jessica November 19 2015 18:27
understanding the types of catheters

Getting acclimated to using a catheter on a regular basis can seem daunting at first. It can feel like a big change in regards to your life and daily schedule. Finding out as much information as you can about catheterization may help you feel more comfortable with the process. The first thing you'll want to understand will be the differences between the various types of catheters that are available to you. As always, consult your doctor before purchasing or using any sort of medical device. 

Let's examine the two main types of urological catheters that are inserted to drain the bladder.
gentlecath catheters

Intermittent Catheters

These types of catheters are typically inserted via the urethra or a stoma, and then once the bladder is drained, the catheter is thrown away after each use. Your doctor or healthcare practitioner will teach you how to insert the catheter yourself, since you will likely be doing this on a regular basis, and they will let you know how often to cath via a prescribed or recommended schedule.

Intermittent catheters come in a variety of optionsstraight tip, coudé tip (for those who are unable to pass straight tip due to strictures, blockages, etc.), and varying lengths, including male, female, and pediatric length.

There are three main sub-types of intermittent catheters to know about.

Straight Catheters
This type of intermittent catheter is the first, original type of catheter, although they have come a long way since the first catheter's invention. This catheter is uncoated, so each one must be manually lubricated prior to insertion. This can be done with the use of individual packets or tubes of sterile lubrication. These are also available in travel-sized pocket catheters, which come in a curved or U-shaped package and can be discreetly tucked into your pocket for easy carrying

straight male catheters


Hydrophilic Catheters
Hydrophilic catheters are similar to straight catheters when it comes to the options for various lengths, straight or coudé tip, and pocket catheter or travel-ready options. The main difference is that hydrophilic catheters have a unique coating which, when activated by water, becomes lubricated and ready to use with no need for additional lubricant, as well as less mess and effort.

hydrophilic male catheters


Closed System Catheters
Closed system catheters are sterile catheters that are typically in a self-contained, all-in-one package with a collection bag. Often a great choice for those in wheelchairs, closed system catheters often come with additional insertion supplies like gloves, an underpad, and antiseptic wipes to minimize the risk of infection. They are pre-lubricated and come with an introducer tip to bypass the highest concentrations of bacteria in the urethra as you insert the catheter. 

male closed system catheters


All of the above-mentioned types of intermittent catheters are typically available in a variety of options, depending on the brand you choose, including:
  • straight or coudé tip
  • male length
  • female length
  • pediatric length
  • pocket catheter options

Indwelling Foley Catheters

If your doctor has determined that you'll need to use a catheter for a long period of time (or even indefinitely), and an intermittent catheter is not an option for whatever reason, then you may have an indwelling, or foley, catheter inserted.
This type of catheter is usually placed in your bladder while at your doctor's office, a hospital, or other healthcare facility. A foley catheter is typically inserted through the urethra (unless this is no longer a viable entry-point, in which case they can be placed through a stoma). Rather than draining the bladder and then throwing the catheter away, this type of catheter is held in place by a small balloon that is inflated once the insertion tip has reached the bladder, and it can stay in for days or even weeks, depending on a doctor's recommendation.
The downside of using a foley catheter is that it can leave you more susceptible to urinary tract and/or bladder infections, since it is left inside the body for long periods of time. 

At 180 Medical, we carry all the major catheter brands and types, so you have the option to sample what might work best for you and have the freedom of choice to pick the brand you prefer.

male intermittent catheter brands
There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing from the various types of catheters available on the market today. Your doctor can help you determine what kind will be best for your needs. 

With the right research and professional guidance, you'll be able to make this transition as easily as possible. Contact us at 180 Medical to start receiving the right intermittent catheters for you!

Disclaimer: Please note that this post is intended to provide a general understanding of product options that are available on the market. This information should not be used in place of your prescribing professional healthcare provider's recommendations, based on your personal anatomy and individual needs. Please consult with your doctor to find what type of catheter may be right for you. 


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